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Books Read in 2017-2018 > Genesis/Exodus/Leviticus/ Numbers/Deuteronomy - Israel's Beginnings - Spoiler

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message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Here are my reading updates for these five books:

June 25, 2018 –
19.0% "So far, other gods have been mentioned as if God of is one of many gods. This made me question the monotheistic nature of the book until I ran into Deuteronomy 32:17 "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom..." With the words "devils" and "gods" seemingly used interchangeably in this verse it seems that there is a declaration that "gods" should be understood as beings of a different category than "God.""
June 25, 2018 –
17.0% "Deuteronomy is interesting from a literary point of view since it summarizes what happened in Ex, Lev, and Num from the perspective of Moses. It is interesting to go from a more third person perspective to a more first person perspective of the same events. (For those interested in this form of alternating narration I recommend the book "Burial Rites" by Hannah Kent, which I think used this style to great effect.)"
June 24, 2018 –
14.0% "In Numbers I think that the tales of Israelites complaining about their condition of wandering relative to their former conditions as slaves and the suffering that their complaining brings has a lot of potential interpretations. An obvious one would be a warning against looking back, to lose oneself to regret and nostalgia in a manner that harms one's present and future welfare. (Connects with Lot's wife in Gen.)"
June 24, 2018 –
11.0% "In Leviticus and am finding a lot of repetitions of instructions on how to worship and such, and am finding very little in terms of narrative. I have found that reading this part mainly as poetry, instead of as reading it manly as prose as I approached Gen and Ex, has increased my enjoyment of it (note: the poetic verse of the King James Version makes a purely poetic reading easy by the way)."
June 23, 2018 –
9.0% "Just got done with Exodus. What stood out to me was a very long description of how the Arc of the Covenant and its accompanying accessories should be crafted, along with a lengthy detailed description to how everything was crafted. I took it as a case of art being held up as means to an end to put one in a right mind to contemplate and appreciate the numinous, the transcendent qualities of existence."
June 23, 2018 –
9.0% "Just got done with Exodus. What stood out to me was a very long description of how the Arc of the Covenant and its accompanying accessories should be crafted, along with a lengthy detailed description to how everything was crafted. I took it as a case of art being held up as means to an end to put one in a right mind to contemplate and appreciate the numinous, the transcendent qualities of existence."
June 23, 2018 –
6.0% "I always thought that the mother of Moses lost her child when she put him in a basket in a river to avoid his death at the hands at the Egyptians. But it seems that his mother was hired as a nurse but the Egyptian woman that found and adopted him shortly after he was picked out of the river. Interesting."
June 22, 2018 –
5.0% "Done with Genesis. Remarkable how quickly some stories are told, in which only a few lines are devoted to tales that have been turned into whole books and movies. One story that seemed to be more fleshed out than most and that read like a modern short story is the tale of Joseph and Egypt."
April 25, 2018 –
3.0%
April 25, 2018 – Shelved
April 25, 2018 – Started Reading


message 3: by MJD (last edited Jun 28, 2018 07:26AM) (new)

MJD | 331 comments GENESIS

One thing I found interesting in Genesis was the plot device of mistaken/hidden identity. One example of this would be in the story of Joseph and Egypt, where Joseph goes to lengths to hide his identity to his brothers (speaking to them through a translator so they think that he can't even speak their language, etc.)

Given how Joseph is cast as so pure and morally righteous it seems weird to think that he was trying to get back at them or have fun at their expense through hiding his identity and making them think that he was going to kill them.

Was his deceit and tricks part of an elaborate plan to get the family back together (perhaps he may have thought that revealing himself early would have caused them to run away or attack him out of fear that he would pursue revenge for being sold into slavery)? That was what I thought could be a possible answer, what is your opinion on why he pursued his elaborate "prank" on his brothers?


message 4: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments One of the main ways that I am trying to approach the Bible is from a Joseph Campbell kind of reading, trying to find deeper universal statements about the human condition (and perhaps reading too much into it at times).

So, having read of all the cycles of complaints of the chosen people, who begin at one point to even complain about the heavenly food (manna) falling from the sky, and the frustration of their God at their lack of thankfulness for all that he did and was doing for them at the time, I think that the writers may have been touching on the idea of the hedonic treadmill.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic...

In fact, I think that these five books have this as a common theme connection much of the stories.


message 5: by Gabriela (last edited Jun 28, 2018 08:08AM) (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "GENESIS

One thing I found interesting in Genesis was the plot device of mistaken/hidden identity. One example of this would be in the story of Joseph and Egypt, where Joseph goes to lengths to hid..."

That is an interesting question. I can't say for sure, but I have some "annotations" of my version of the Bible and it says there in my annotations that the fact that Joseph recognized his brothers so quickly reveals his depth of mind/thought, as opposed to his brothers who didn't realize he was their kin. Plus, my annotations say that, in the brothers' answer to Joseph's question about their family, they imply that Joseph is dead, but some theologists/translators say that their wording that implies the death of Joseph can in fact be translated to "he is no more" (so not necessarily dead), which probably led Joseph to believe that his younger brother Benyamin was sold or killed too. So maybe this was just a precaution, so to say. He just wanted to be reunited with his little brother, while making sure he was safe and sound I think.


message 6: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Gabriela wrote: "MJD wrote: "GENESIS

One thing I found interesting in Genesis was the plot device of mistaken/hidden identity. One example of this would be in the story of Joseph and Egypt, where Joseph goes to le..."


Speaking of brotherly love, I thought that it was interesting that the last story of brothers in Gen (Joseph and his brothers) is one that ends in brotherly love, generosity, repentance, forgiveness, etc. and the first story of brothers (Cain and Able) is one of hate, envy, and bloodshed. One is a story of coming together, and one is of falling apart. I liked the parallels of the image of an ideal brotherhood and the antithesis of that ideal.

It reminds me of the representation of the ideal city and its antithesis as depicted on the shield of Achilles in The Iliad.


message 7: by Gabriela (last edited Jun 28, 2018 10:17AM) (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "Gabriela wrote: "MJD wrote: "GENESIS

One thing I found interesting in Genesis was the plot device of mistaken/hidden identity. One example of this would be in the story of Joseph and Egypt, where ..."


I never looked at the beginning and ending that way, I must say it is an interesting perspective. Cain and Abel's story was the one that struck me the most, because something relative to its numerology is referenced in the Gospel according to Matthew, but from a different (I'd say even opposing) perspective, not of vengeance, but of love and forgiveness.


message 8: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments EXODUS

As I posted above in my reading updates, I was surprised to read that the mother of Moses was reunited with her son - seemingly immediately after floating him down the river - and hired as a nurse for him.

I was always under the impression that Moses grew up separated from his mother from the day that she paced him in the river. Am I alone in previous misconception, or did other members in the group have the same conception of the story that I previously did?


message 9: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments EXODUS

One thing that was interesting about Exodus was a complete condemnation of crafting something to represent God alongside a lengthy and detailed command to craft accessories to worship God.

I interpret it as art as an end to itself is condemned, but art as a means to an end is praised.

It reminds me of the writings of some Buddhist scholars that condemn Buddhist practices and beliefs as ends to themselves, but praise the same practices and beliefs as means to an end. This has been summed up by some Buddhist teachers by the analogy of a finger pointing to the moon (i.e. one should not focus on the pointed finger, but rather one should use the finger as means to focus on the moon).

______________________________________________________________

Another thing that came to mind to me is the progression of the appreciation of beauty found in Plato's Symposium (note: I copy and pasted a wiki article about this below). My reading of Symposium is that while it is okay to enjoy "lower" levels of beauty, it is not okay to see the "lower" as the highest and only sense of beauty. Going off of this interpretation it seems to make sense that arts and crafts are praised as accessories to worship but are condemned as an object of worship.


from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_... :""Beauty is a subject of Plato' in his work Symposium.[12] In the work, the high priestess Diotima describes how beauty moves out from a core singular appreciation of the body to outer appreciations via loved ones, to the world in its state of culture and society (Wright) .[13] In other words, Diotoma gives to Socrates as explanation of how love should begin with erotic attachment, and end with the transcending of the physical to an appreciation of beauty as a thing in itself. The ascent of love begins with one's own body, then secondarily, in appreciating beauty in another's body, thirdly beauty in the soul, which cognates to beauty in the mind in the modern sense, fourthly beauty in institutions, laws and activities, fifthly beauty in knowledge, the sciences, and finally to lastly love beauty itself, which translates to the original Greek language term as auto to kalon.[17] In the final state, auto to kalon and truth are united as one.""


message 10: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of poetry (i.e. interesting metaphors, rhyming, alliteration, etc.)?

3) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of philosophy?


message 11: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books did you like ..."


Message 10 discussion questions answers:

1)In Ex., I liked the idea that Moses was raised in an Egyptian household. I feel that this plot point adds an extra interesting layer to his character, making it possible that he was conflicted with going against the Egyptians (this concept is made explicit in the 1998 film “Prince of Egypt,” and I think that its inclusion added a lot to the story).

2) Ex 2:22 “… I have been a stranger in a strange land.”

3) I think what I said in message 4 sums up one of my favorite philosophical points.


message 12: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
I finally found my KJV of the Bible and I'll start my reading sometime during the weekend. Until then I must say that I've been thoroughly enjoying the discussions here. MJD, your insights into the books has been a great learning experience for me and I for one just want to thank you.


message 13: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
MJD wrote: "EXODUS

As I posted above in my reading updates, I was surprised to read that the mother of Moses was reunited with her son - seemingly immediately after floating him down the river - and hired as ..."


No I didn't have that misconception MJD. I knew that they were "reunited". Wasn't this part also featured in the movie "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston?


message 14: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books did you like ..."


Question #1 - The creation of the world.

Question #2 - My favorite part of any bible version is Genesis. I love the description of the creation of the world. To me it's pure poetry.

Question #3 - I need to ponder this one a bit.


message 15: by Gabriela (last edited Jun 30, 2018 09:09AM) (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books did you like ..."


Question 1: For me, it was the story of Joseph and his brothers, because it had sort of a flowing narrative, which made it easy to read and enjoyable for me. Although I'd say that in terms of plot twists, Exodus is second to none.

Question 2: the creation of the world. I found out some quite interesting metaphors. Every bit of description here was full with lyrism and I enjoyed it.

Question 3: The story of Noah's Ark, because the ark in itself is, in my view, a symbol of communion between people and nature, a sense of working together to achieve salvation, which may suggest the idea of a religious assembly/the Church based on mutual love, understanding and hard work which, for me, counts as an important"life philosophy" as well.


message 16: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Loretta wrote: "MJD wrote: "EXODUS

As I posted above in my reading updates, I was surprised to read that the mother of Moses was reunited with her son - seemingly immediately after floating him down the river - a..."


That a film that I always wanted to watch but never got around to. Will try to see sometime in the future.


message 17: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Loretta wrote: "I finally found my KJV of the Bible and I'll start my reading sometime during the weekend. Until then I must say that I've been thoroughly enjoying the discussions here. MJD, your insights into the..."

Thank you for setting up the thread. It really gave me the positive pressure that I needed to read the book as a whole cover to cover. While I have read much of it here and there I have always wanted, and always found an excuse to not, read it cover to cover.

As I am nearly halfway done now feel confident saying that I am really happy that I chose to finally undertake this reading. I do think that the individual books build on one another, and reading it as a whole is really fulfilling.

I look forward to further discussions on this thread.


message 18: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Loretta wrote: "MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books d..."


If liked the description of creation in Gen you may like the description of creation in Metamorphoses by Ovid. I read a translation once that I really liked, but I cannot recall who the translator was. Here is a link to an online translation that is not as good as I remember, but I think it is okay: http://classics.mit.edu/Ovid/metam.1....


message 19: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Gabriela wrote: "MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) What part from these five books did you like best, in terms of prose (i.e. interesting plot points, narrative form, etc.)?

2) What part from these five books d..."


I liked the story of Joseph as well. It almost reads as a "modern" short story, not entirely out of place outside a modern collection of short stories (there were brief parts of "begat lists" that a modern editor would probably encourage the writer to take out, but besides that I think that a modern publisher, and not necessarily a religious one, would publish it).

In this sense it reminded me of the book Esther, which I think would not be out of place as a Renaissance, or even more contemporary, tragicomedy.


message 20: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?


message 21: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?"


I recommend "The City Coat of Arms" by Franz Kafka. I think that it had a very interesting take on the story of the tower of Babel.

Here is a wiki link of the story [CONTAINS SPOILS OF STORY]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cit...


message 22: by Gabriela (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?"


To be honest, I haven't finished reading it yet, but, to my mind, Milton's Paradise Lost
is one of the greatest retellings of the book of Genesis.


message 23: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Gabriela wrote: "MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?"

To be honest, I haven't finished reading it yet, but, t..."


That is on my to read list. How far are you into it?


message 24: by Gabriela (last edited Jul 01, 2018 06:39AM) (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?"

I recommend "The City Coat of Arms" by Franz Ka..."</i>

I've just read it and enjoyed it, so thank you for recommending it! It kind of reminds me of Dostoevsky's [book:The Dream of a Ridiculous Man
(mostly the second part of the story)



message 25: by Gabriela (new)

Gabriela | 36 comments MJD wrote: "Gabriela wrote: "MJD wrote: "DISCUSSION QUESTION #4

What work of literature that is based on one or more stories from these five books would you recommend?"

To be honest, I haven't finished readi..."


The first book for now, it might take me lots of time because of the complexity of the language (for me, at least, as a non-native speaker). But I am very keen on the style of the book and the initial portrayal of the antagonist.


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